If there was any doubt that streaming media was the next step in the evolution of home entertainment, that uncertainty should be completely dispelled by now. Streaming is no longer the purview of first-adopters, or even early adopters — it’s mainstream AND Main Street.
The statistics about household/market penetration are compelling and recently passed what industry analysts consider to be important milestones. As of the week of March 8,
…the number of US homes with an SVOD subscription just crossed the 50% mark. It could be that the 50% barrier was broken by SVOD even earlier than that. Digitalsmiths reported that the number of people saying they used an SVOD service crossed the 50% threshold sometime in 2014. In Q3 2015, the company says 56% of people report using SVOD services.
Beyond the big three, namely Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, there has been a broad expansion of streaming video options, services which deliver an alternate movie-centric experience or which cater to the special interests and focused, niche activities, which have undoubtedly fueled the surge in usage among American households. Viewers are now able to discover services which appeal to their specific interests, with far more choice than was available just a couple years ago. Shudder appeals to the horror aficionado, FlixFling to the indie fan, Docurama to the student of documentary, CuriosityStream to those interested in the natural world and history. There’s HBO Go and CBS All Access. Where there were only a few, now there are many.
While movies are still the leading type of programming accessed via streaming, the technology and use by businesses with varid interests has moved beyond entertainment. For example, budding guitar players can learn from some of music’s best players from Guitar World Lessons. Shape magazine recently profiled 13 streaming fitness services which cater to interests ranging from barre to pilates, yoga to tribal dance. Yet another example: of the top 50 megachurches with attendance over 10,000 each week, over 90% have stream programming, either live or VOD, via their website, Roku and/or other channel. What was once the purview of the Fortune 1000 media company is now well within the reach of far more modest enterprises with audiences numbering in the thousands, rather than the millions.
Admittedly, the technology has evolved tremendously rapidly as well, making the establishment and sustainability of streaming services economically viable and technically practical. With back-end services such as Limelight, Ooyala and Brightcove and others managing the content and delivery, as well as developers such Giant Interactive, developing user interfaces and experiences, taking a VOD service public is no longer a hugely expensive proposition, but rather one which can be accomplished with the help of knowledgeable partners and a collection of compelling programming.
Still, the reason these streaming services continue to grow both in library size and subscriber volume is that they are delivering on the promise of a personalized media experience, whether with specialized original content (i.e.: Netflix’s Daredevil or Amazon’s Bosch) or by way of complementary online communities which turn a chore into an salubrious experience (i.e.: Susan Bowen Fitness’s SBF Streaming).
As market and household usage metrics continue to tick upwards, the need for content owners to be active and accessible in the space, and to provide an experience which is personalized and engaging will continue to grow. Don’t miss out.